CLEVELAND — If your Cyber Monday strategy is "buy everything," slow down: Winning Cyber Monday requires focus. In fact, there are some purchase categories you can avoid entirely so that you can reserve your energy for finding the very best Cyber Monday deals.
BUY ON CYBER MONDAY
Airlines, hotels and online travel companies started offering attention-grabbing deals on Cyber Monday several years back, and it's only escalated since.
You'll find one-way domestic flights for as low as $50 and resort stays, hotel nights and vacation packages slashed to 50 percent off. Some travel sites (such as Expedia) release lightning deals (up to 90 percent off) in extremely limited supply.
The key, however, is to be spontaneous. If you're looking for a trip somewhere (anywhere) warm and are flexible with dates and precise destination, Cyber Monday is the day to book. If you're looking to book something very specific, your savings will be less impressive.
According to Deal News, which tracks prices, around 78 percent of the best beauty deals they listed were during Cyber Monday last year. You can find these a places like Bath and Body Works, Aveda, Ulta and Sephora. All of them will have deals anywhere from 20-40 percent off.
There's a catch. I'm not talking about the latest ones. If you're willing to drop back one generation, you'll find plenty of gaming deals and bundles. And Cyber Monday prices often drop further than they do on Black Friday.
What's great about buying on Cyber Monday is the fact that most retailers have store wide sales with let's say 20 percent off the entire site.
So it's not necessarily specific categories, nor limited to winter.
DON'T BUY ON CYBER MONDAY
Furniture and home decor
For furniture you'll see bigger deals on Presidents Day, Memorial Day or some of the other holidays. Check places like Overstock and Wayfair, they also have frequent seasonal and item-specific sales during other times of the year.
You'll see some sales now, but the deeper discounts will come in January when people look in the mirror and say, "Oh dear."
"The best time to buy a laptop is when you need one." We got this pro tip from a consulting firm, which has many e-commerce clients. Laptops tend to have some of the worst cyber Monday deals. That's because consumers tend to put a lot more research into their choice of laptop (since it's such a big-ticket purchase) instead of snapping one up on the spot. The logic is by the time the consumer makes up their mind, Cyber Monday will have passed. If you put in plenty of advance research, though, and a laptop you want is on sale on Cyber Monday (with good specs), buy it. Those new tariffs are expected to kick in on Dec. 15, and they'll impact tablets, laptops and gaming consoles.
Your friend or family member may be mulling that New Year's resolution to get in shape — but you're better off waiting until January to buy them that new set of weights. People really decide to follow through on their New Year's resolutions in January even if they have forgotten them by February. Retailers understand that, so that's when they're offering their big promotions to compete and drive traffic to their stores.
Artificial trees and holiday decor
With shoppers in a holiday state of mind, big box home improvement retailers and home decor retailers pummel consumers with online deals on artificial trees, holiday decor and holiday crafting items. Savings of up to 50 percent off pre-lit trees is a common Cyber Monday bargain. These deals are tempting, as the cost of lights, lawn inflatables and pre-lit trees adds up quickly. However, if you can bring yourself to skip holiday decor this year (or rely on last year's decorations), you can save much more the day after Christmas. Hit up the same sites that sent those Cyber Monday deals to your inbox the day after Christmas, and you'll find upward of 80 percent off.